Monday, March 07, 2011

The final Hutton Report on public sector pensions – more signs of unrest

On Thursday Lord Hutton publishes his final report on public sector pensions. (Strangely, the publication date was only announced at the end of February.) A shift away from final salary to average salary pensions is likely to be proposed. The increased employee pension contributions advocated in his earlier interim report are already meeting union opposition.

In yesterday’s Observer a report pointed out:

Strike laws dictate that workers can only call action over a change to their pay or conditions and pensions are the only single reform that affects all public sector workers, justifying a general walkout. Some unions are already agitating for such a move.

At a time of pay freezes pension contribution rises are particularly painful for the “squeezed middle”. To the extent that lower paid workers are protected, the greater the rises for their better paid colleagues.

In a portent for the future, last week the University and Colleges Union voted at 67 universities by two thirds for strike action and 82% voting for action short of a strike. A series of rolling strikes will take place from 21 March if a resolution cannot be found to a dispute over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

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